DevOps is a flexible, agile way of operating: always evolving, celebrating what works and learning from what doesn't. As agile culture has become more widespread, thousands of businesses have expressed an interest in adopting DevOps practices and methodologies - but often have no idea where to start.
Consultancies like Sandhata Technologies - winner of DevOps Project of the Year at the recent DevOps Excellence Awards - are have a key role to play in guiding companies through the transition.
Raghuram Koripalli (pictured), Senior DevOps Consultant at Sandhata, explains, "Sandhata was born as a high-end consultancy focusing on Integration - introducing lean and agile practices to enable the Integration teams to keep pace with the rest of the organisation. We have been ‘doing DevOps' right from the start - even before the word DevOps existed.
"As DevOps has taken off, we have stayed at the forefront of new technologies and evolving practices… We offer the full range of DevOps services including capability assessments, Continuous Delivery and Release Orchestration, and everything in between. Right now, we are working on bringing DevOps to the mainframe space with our latest offering PopUp Mainframe - really cutting-edge stuff."
The judges at the DevOps Awards recognised Sandhata for its work with Vodafone, enabling a much faster pace of delivery. Koripalli says the team was critical to the project's success:
"At the start of this project, the team were eager to improve things, but they didn't really know where to start and were a bit overwhelmed with the possibilities. Once we worked out the project priorities and got the ball rolling, the positive energy and enthusiasm from each team member snowballed and the tight cohesion enabled us to overcome each challenge as it was thrown at us.
"To me, the most unique and rewarding part of working in this team has been witnessing the transformation from a disengaged, inefficient team with low morale just over a year ago, to a strongly motivated, close-knit community who really enjoy what they do. Now they are ready to change the world, one system at a time."
Koripalli adds that having the right systems and tools is crucial for DevOps. Sandhata has its own end-to-end DevOps framework in a dedicated lab, where it tests new tools and evaluates how best to use them with clients. In its work with Vodafone, the two companies "chose tools that enabled process automation - reducing deployment time, improving quality, enabling visibility, continuous integration and deployment of the software when and where it's needed."
Just as important - perhaps more so - is, of course, the collaboration between Dev and Ops that agile working relies on. Koripalli says, "Instead of just focussing on deploying changes quickly into environments, we also focussed on improving quality, by performing code quality and testing early in the process. We introduced post-deployment quality checks into the deployment process by building sanity tests to qualify changes deployed into the environment.
"These improvements in quality have helped to improve the confidence, trust and collaboration between Dev and Ops teams."
There were challenges along the way, of course. Sandhata helped Vodafone migrate from legacy source control to GitHub, and rather than pursuing a lift-and-shift strategy, decided to refactor 20 large code modules into more than 170 logical micro services.
"[We wanted] to drive clearer ownership and leverage CI/CD techniques. This was something we hadn't planned for initially, and in the end, it was a joint effort across many teams, requiring hundreds of man-hours!"
Configuration was another challenge:
"With over 9,000 configurations spread across 10 environments, baselining was an essential and challenging activity. To accelerate this, we built a custom tool to collect, compare and generate a new baseline configuration with only one click. This was also something we had not been planned for initially, but once it became clear that this was needed, we invested the effort up front and the efficiency savings gained were really worth it!"
The end result of the project was one that the DevOps judges called a "really great example of how an application can be focused on business benefits."